Thursday, July 28, 2016

{Blog Tour} Valley of the Moon - Bronwyn Archer (Review)


Valley of the Moon
by Bronwyn Archer

Publisher: Bronarch Books
Release Date: April 13th 2016

Genre: Young Adult
My Rating: 3/5

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Synopsis:



There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . . 



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Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.



She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.



It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.



Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets. 



Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?



Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.



This book follows Lana who lost her mother a few years ago to an apparent suicide.  Lana lives with her father who owns a vintage car business.  Lana's father did remarry, but got divorced.  Lana is just trying to get through high school and move to college.  She works really hard to keep her grades up.

I love Lana as a character she has already gone through so much when we meet her that she comes off as a very strong individual.   Lana losing her mother at a young age was something she had to struggle to overcome.  She thought she got a new family when her dad remarried, but she was able to see that as what it was.  Lana does a great job as the narrator of the story.  She keeps the story moving along.  Also, Lana does a great job of creating her mother as a character in the book.  She is able to use flashbacks to help create an image of Lana's mother.

The ending of this book is great.  So many different details come together and end up making complete sense.  I do still have a lot of questions, but they leave me wanting to read the sequel.

Things I could see improved in the book was the story itself.  I felt like there were portions of the book that just dragged on and could have been skipped.  The ending of the book is very action packed and stuff happens very quickly.  During the book the author drops hints, but doesn't explain things fully so you are left wondering what Lana is talking about in regards to her "sister" or her father's second marriage ending.   At the end we get a lot of answers to questions and it felt like it came on to quickly almost.  If we could have gotten more important details sprinkled in sooner I think the story would have been much better.

Another issue I had with the book was that I felt like rape was sort of glanced over in the book.  I felt like the author brought this into the book, but didn't really develop it well.  I felt like I was yelling at the character because being 18 years old and knowing something is wrong you need to report it.   I guess because of the police situation she was scared, but there is more than 1 office on a police force.   Also, there was another attack with a boy as well that was more or less glanced over, those things should never be taken lightly.  

I would suggest this as a nighttime read before bed.  It is easy to follow along in the story.  It does pick up the pace significantly towards the end and does become more challenging to put down. 

I received a copy of this book from The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review.  This does not effect my opinion of this book.



Follow the Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR





Bronwyn Archer is a young-adult author, digital media copywriter, and mother to several children, last time she counted.



At her all-girls high school, Bronwyn discovered a love of writing and the importance of a good fake ID. The only sport she was good at was boogie-boarding, but she decided to hang up her board after a terrifying close encounter with a seven-foot blue shark in the Santa Monica Bay.



She still gets nervous in black-bottomed swimming pools.



After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in English and Art History, she moved to Paris, where she edited a magazine for expatriates. After failing to become the next Hemingway—despite putting in many hours at the Ritz Hotel’s Hemingway Bar—she moved back to the States, where she developed a semi-successful career in New York and Los Angeles as a copywriter for ad agencies and companies like HBO and Disney.



Now Bronwyn writes fiction and raises children. She’s up to two rescue mutts and four kids, which makes her a semi-freak in this neck of the woods, but she’s learned that once you decide to live your life your way, everything else gets a little easier.



Besides writing and expertly avoiding baskets of laundry that need folding, Bronwyn loves movies from the 80s, comedy, Disneyland (sorry WDW), the paintings of Winslow Homer and Maxfield Parrish, coffee, Paris, Oscar Wilde, hot sauce, the Christmas season, Thai street food, making things with felt, and the smell of freshly printed books.


She is still searching for her own “signature fragrance,” which she’ll know when she finds it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Grey Forest - Maureen A. Griswold (Review)

28793196The Grey Forest by
Genres:  Fiction, Short Story
Publication date:
January 25th 2016

Publisher: Smashwords Edition
Format: ebook, 76 pages
How I got it: From Maureen Griswold in order to provide an honest review
Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble
My rating: 4/5
 

Yes, traveler, you’ve discovered

The Grey Forest

You’ve arrived at a crosspoint: a collection of short stories from a parallel terrain of shadow and light, of illusion and truth, of mystery and revelation.

* a Tibetan mandala services the enigmatic, reclusive, son of a Silicon Valley magnate.

* mysterious mental imagery spontaneously appears to young Army nurse.

* a unique U.S. mass shooting poses a special challenge for an iconic gun lobbyist.

* when a foolish marketing letter is mailed to a long-departed businessman, an unexpected, otherworldly, response results.

* for a few predestined moments, an unlikely pair of soulmates find each other.


These and other stories await and beckon. Breathe deep and step into a landscape of twists, turns, and ironies in this collection of tales from The Grey Forest.

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My thoughts:



The Grey Forest is a book of short stories.


The first story talks about a son who recently lost his very wealthy father.  The son is a Buddhist who is trying to figure out what to do with his father’s fortune and also wants to continue to practice Buddhism.   The father names the son the same name so he could pass on the legacy.   The ending of this story is great! I think it is unexpected what the son did and the monk seemed scared! 


The second story follows a military nurse who goes from studying to practicing nursing.  The guy she meets along the way deceived her and was married.  It was an interesting read and I love the ending of trust. 


The third story talks about mass shootings and gun control laws.  The story is a very interesting read and ironic.  I enjoyed what the author did with this piece a lot.    This by far was my favorite short story and one that applies to the everyday now. 


The fourth short story talks about a mother and son where the son was paralyzed who visited a shop a bunch to buy some pieces for a collection or browse.  The owner really liked talking to this pair and learned a lot of about the mother and son during their visits.  I think the author did a great job with this story and showing how the owner of the shop found peace.  Also, I think the author did a good job explaining how sometimes after a tragedy occurs people work on it and then sort of forget about it and move on.  The author had great points in this short story.  This story was my favorite by far I could easily relate to the story and found interesting views of the author. 


The firth story is about a Dead Man’s mail which I can completely relate too.  I am not sure why these companies sending mail don’t take the time to see if the person is alive or even living at that address.  This is a quick read that in my mind is very funny!! 


The sixth story talks about the war in Iraq.  This story takes an interesting view based on not everyone supporting the war right away.  It looks at the war based on it going on for one month.  The author does a great job telling a story about a child who was harmed in Iraq and showing that innocent civilians where involved.   It does a great job showing that people can change their opinions.  


The seventh story talks about four high school girls who are not good at sports.  I enjoyed this story I can relate to being uncoordinated when it comes to sports.   


The eighth story talks about a cartoonist who created a fake boy and fake mother.  When the storyteller was at a fair she met the real boy who the fake boy was based on.  He was a Marine serving in Vietnam.  The father and son did not get along in real life and had a bad relationship.  The storyteller took it upon herself to research the pair a few years later and only found that the real boy didn’t attend the father’s funeral.   This story wasn’t really for me, I am not sure why but I couldn’t relate. 


The ninth and final story follows a woman who lost everything when her husband committed fraud at his company.  Her son committed suicide and her husband died in jail.  She was without everything now in the world she loved.  She goes to visit sick children who soon will not be living any longer.  It is in giving these children some of her time she finds what pure love was.  This was an interesting story to read and an interesting perspective the author took. 


I enjoyed reading this short story book.  I would suggest this as a read for the beach, each story gives you a lot to think about and ponder.  Some stories I had to reread since I felt like I wanted to hear it again and see what I missed.  


I would also suggest this as a great book for a book club.  There are so many topics covered and the author takes one approach so it would bring up great discussions. 

I received a copy of this book from Maureen Griswold for the purpose of providing an honest review.  This does not effect my opinion of this book. 

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About the Author



Maureen A. Griswold has authored fiction and nonfiction. She resides in northern California.

After serving in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, she returned to her alma mater, San Jose State University, and earned her journalism degree. She was senior editor for the (former) California Nursing Review, a bimonthly magazine for California RNs and eventually worked as a medical writer in the pharmaceutical industry.

More information is available at her website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and her YouTube channel.

Author Links:
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Monday, July 25, 2016

{Blog Tour} Brodie's Gamble - Shirleen Davies (Spotlight & Giveaway)

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Description

Brodie’s Gamble, Book Two, MacLarens of Boundary Mountain Historical Western Romance Series

“Every book of Shirleen's never fails to draw me in and make it impossible to put down until I devour it!”

Brodie MacLaren has a dream. He yearns to wear the star—bring the guilty to justice and protect those who are innocent. In his mind, guilty means guilty, even when it includes a beautiful woman who sets his body on edge.

Maggie King lives a nightmare, wanting nothing more than to survive each day and recapture the life stolen from her. Each day she wakes and prays for escape. Taking the one chance she may ever have, Maggie lashes out, unprepared for the rising panic as the man people believe to be her husband lies motionless at her feet.

Deciding innocence and guilt isn’t his job.

Brodie’s orderly, black and white world spins as her story of kidnapping and abuse unfold. The fact nothing adds up as well as his growing attraction to Maggie cause doubts the stoic lawman can’t afford to embrace.

Can a lifetime of believing in absolute right and wrong change in a heartbeat?

Maggie has traded one form of captivity for another. Thoughts of escape consume her, even as feelings for the handsome, unyielding lawman grow.

As events unfold, Brodie must fight more than his attraction. Someone is after Maggie—a real threat who is out to silence her.

He’s challenged on all fronts—until he takes a gamble that could change his life or destroy his heart.
Brodie’s Gamble, book two in the MacLarens of Boundary Mountain historical western romance series, is a full-length novel with an HEA.

Excerpt

“How old were you when you met Stoddard?” He hadn’t meant to ask the question, didn’t need to know more about her than he already did. Maggie’s age didn’t matter. It only mattered that he held her as a suspect in a murder.

“Eighteen. I’m twenty now.” She spoke with a staid calmness, as if detached, speaking of someone else. “I wish I could tell you the time flew by, but that would be a lie.” This time, her voice held the bitterness he expected. Closing her eyes to still the moisture beginning to pool, she sucked in a deep breath.

He didn’t know what triggered his quick response—her shaky voice, the tremble of her body, or the tears she couldn’t hide—but he reached out, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her close. Splaying his hands across her back, he rested his chin on top of her head as she settled her cheek against his chest.

“Shhh, lass. He can no longer hurt you.” Brodie’s heart pounded, his chest tightening at the same time he tried to provide her comfort. He couldn’t imagine the horrors she’d been through. If Arnie weren’t already dead, it would’ve taken all the strength Brodie possessed to not kill the man himself. Feeling the tears soak through his shirt, he drew back, lifting her chin with a finger.

“You must try to believe it will be all right, Maggie.”

Her glassy blue eyes stared up at him as the faintest sliver of hope crossed her face. A hope he could encourage or dash with a rash word or careless gesture.

“Do you truly think it will work out for me?”

Brodie didn’t know what more to say. Instead, he did the most foolish thing imaginable. Lowering his head, he brushed a gentle kiss across her lips, feeling her tense, then relax against him. He kissed her again, losing himself in the taste and feel of her.

Awareness of the colossal mistake he was making sliced through Brodie an instant before he tightened his hold, fitting Maggie snuggly to his body, his lips pressed against hers, claiming her mouth with fierce desire.

Her heart thundered and stomach churned as Brodie continued his gentle assault. The warmth of his body, the hardness of his chest and muscled arms sheltered her at the same time heat ripped through her, as if she were engulfed in a circle of flames.

Brodie couldn’t get her close enough. He wanted to lift her into his arms, carry her to his bed, and lay her down. Kiss every inch of her body, caress…

He pulled back, his abrupt departure causing her to whimper as she buried her face against his throat. They had to stop. He had to stop. The madness, which gripped him moments before, gave way to guilt and self-loathing. How could he have surrendered so completely to the charms of one woman? A woman who’d done nothing except look to him for help?

Setting her aside, he straightened, steeling his features. “We need to go back.” He could see the slight shiver of her body as she swayed toward him. “Now, Miss King. You need to get back in your cell, and I need to get back to my work.”

The hurt in her eyes did nothing to dispel the remorse he felt. He’d crossed a line, and he could blame it on no one except himself.

Bio

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Shirleen Davies writes romance—historical, contemporary, and romantic suspense. She grew up in Southern California, attended Oregon State University, and has degrees from San Diego State University and the University of Maryland. During the day she provides consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses. But her real passion is writing emotionally charged stories of flawed people who find redemption through love and acceptance.  She now lives with her husband in a beautiful town in northern Arizona.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

{Blog Tour} The Secret Language of Stones - M. J. Rose (Review & Giveaway)

The Secret Language of Stones

The Secret Language of Stones - M. J. Rose

on Tour July 19-28 with

(historical fiction) Release date: July 19, 2016 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster ISBN: 978-1-4767-7809-9 320 pages Author’s page | Goodreads 
 

SYNOPSIS

AS WORLD WAR I RAGES AND THE ROMANOV DYNASTY REACHES ITS SUDDEN, BRUTAL END, A YOUNG JEWELRY MAKER DISCOVERS LOVE, PASSION, AND HER OWN HEALING POWERS IN THIS RICH AND ROMANTIC NOVEL BY NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR M.J. ROSE. Nestled deep within Paris’s historic Palais Royal, safe inside La Fantasie Russie’s once-bustling workshop, young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi spends her days making trench watches for soldiers at the front and mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. Opaline has a rare gift, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones enable her to receive messages from beyond. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her. So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family.
Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).
“Spellbinding.” —Alyson Richman, author of The Lost Wife
  

REVIEW

This book follows Opaline who is a mystic and jeweler that can feel and hear things through stones.  She works on creating talisman for women who have lost children/husbands/brothers in the war.  Opaline creates the talisman from locks of hair and astrological dates and once complete she is able to hear final thoughts of the deceased.  This works until she creates one for Jean Luc's mother and she can't stop hearing his voice.  She is reluctant to give up the talisman since she seems to be falling in love with him.

I felt very conflicted over Opaline as a character.  I wanted to love her as a person, but I felt like she was just going against the gift she was given constantly and everyone was telling her to embrace it.  I get after she explains the challenges of the gift, but she was constantly going against learning to control the gift it felt like.  She was given several opportunities to learn and didn't want to.  Although at the end of the book I loved Opaline she was realizing all of her potential and trying to put things in the right order it did take some time to love her as a character.

The author did a great job with the setting of the book.  She really did well describing the city and it felt like you could imagine exactly what was going on.  I loved how she used a lot of details about the war and also the feelings that surrounded the city during the warThe author created so many emotions with this book it was easy to be transported to that world while reading. 

I felt like one thing that could be improved upon was the secondary characters.  I only got images and feelings of them from Opaline so I didn't feel really connected to any of them.  I enjoyed reading about Anna, but would have loved to get some insight on what she thought about Opaline refusing to learn the importance of her gift.  Also, I would have loved to get more details about why Opaline felt she couldn't trust her mother. 

I loved the ending of this book.  I didn't really see the ending coming with the flip of one character, but it was perfect! The author did a great job leading the reader on one path and then did a 180, it was great!  We also got to see Opaline as a character shine and it made it worth the read. 

I would suggest this as a nighttime read.  It was easy to follow along in the book and I didn't have any issue picking the book up reading for a bit ad then putting it down.  

I received a copy of this book from France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  This does not effect my opinion of this book.

My Rating:  4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

mj-rose M.J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park —and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Please visit her website, her blog: Museum of Mysteries Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more. Or send an email to TheFictionofMJRose-subscribe at yahoogroups dot com To send M.J. a message and/or request a signed bookplate, send an email to mjroseauthor at gmail dot com Follow her on Facebook and Twitter Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million

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You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to US residents only: 9 participants will each win a print copy of this book.

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CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS, GUEST-POST AND EXCERPT

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{Blog Tour} The Frenchman - Lise McClendon (Review, Excerpt & Giveaway)

Lise McClendon on Tour September 8-21 with The Frenchman (mystery)  Release date: September 8, 2017 at Thalia Press 278 pages ...